Good experience Health

How to Stand Out as a Nurse

Written by Jimmy Rustling

As a nurse, standing out can be hard. After all, you are often surrounded by equally talented nurses who are just as motivated and hard-working as you are. If you are truly passionate about making a good impression, though, you can ensure you stand out amongst the crowd.

Whether you’re aiming for a raise, promotion, or want to secure better references, here is how you can stand out as a nurse.

Study on the Side

If you truly want to show that you are serious about nursing, pursue extra education on the side of your current role. There are plenty of course options available online, meaning you can fit your studies around your job. If you already have your nursing master’s, you could go a step further and do an online DNP, which would help you secure a more advanced nursing role.

Whichever course you decide on pursuing while you work, it will let your managers know that you are committed to becoming the best nurse you can be.

Always Show Up on Time

While showing up on time won’t get you noticed straight away, you’ll show your supervisor that you are an extremely reliable nurse by consistently never being late. Sometimes situations might happen that are out of your control, like an accident on the road you take to work, and in those situations, make sure you explain what happened and ensure your supervisor that it’s a one-off.

By getting up earlier, checking the traffic in the morning, and aiming for an earlier time than your shift, you lessen the chances of you ever showing up late to work.

Remember Patient Details

While you might know lots of clinical knowledge, how much do you know about your patients? Even if you deal with different patients every day, it’s important to remember little details about them to make them feel comfortable and welcome. If a patient you’re working with tells you that their son is coming to see them later, when you later check in on them, remember to ask them if their son has shown up yet. It’s the little details like this that’ll make you stand out as a caring and considerate nurse.

Make Lots of Connections

To stand out not just to your supervisor but to many nurses, you should make as many connections as possible, whether during work or your DNP. Make sure you make a good impression when making those connections, too, by being as friendly as you can. Not only will this help you stand out, but it will also improve your chances of being recommended for a more advanced nursing role in the future.

Manage Your Time Well

Do you want to be known as the nurse who is always rushing their to-do list, or the nurse who always seems collected and has time to spare? If you want to stand out for the right reasons, you should aim for the latter. Managing your time at work isn’t always easy, though, especially as a nurse. A couple of tips to help you do it include:

  • Write a to-do list at the beginning of each day
  • Get better at prioritizing
  • Keep a steady pace
  • Use a time management app

Help Out Other Nurses

Another great way to stand out is to help out your fellow nurses. This has multiple benefits – not only is it a nice thing to do for those you work with, but it’ll also improve your reputation and show that you are more than capable of taking on more work. When your manager sees that you are on top of your own work to the point of being able to lend a helping hand, they’ll know that you are a nurse worthy of advancement. Also, if you’re doing your DNP, and you can help other nursing students, do so.

Take the initiative in Difficult Situations

The best nurses work well under pressure. So, the next time a difficult situation arises at work (which shouldn’t be too uncommon in a healthcare setting), try your best to keep calm and take the initiative. By doing this, others will look to you for direction, which will make you stand out for all the right reasons.

Learn Leadership Skills

If you want to pursue your DNP, get a promotion, or become a nurse leader, you must learn fundamental leadership skills. Of course, that doesn’t mean taking on the role of your manager – it simply means learning the necessary skills and taking on a leadership role when the situation calls for it. The skills include:

Active Listening 

Real leaders are active listeners. That means they don’t just hear the information given to them – they absorb it and take it into account. You must do this, too.

A Calm Nature 

If you ever find yourself the leader of a difficult team, avoid shouting or getting angry. A calm, collected nature always brings about more respect.

Excellent Communication 

Great leaders are excellent communicators. Work on speaking clearly and in a professional manner to ensure everyone understands what you are saying.


Leaders know when to make decisions. Rather than spending too long considering, you must be able to make a final decision in a reasonable time.

Volunteer to be a Student’s Mentor

Many nurses shy away from being a nursing student’s mentor due to the additional work and the hassle of having someone around them all day. While it might be a slight inconvenience at first, you’ll find that as the day progresses, the student becomes helpful. Not only that, but it will show your manager that you are willing to step forward and help out when necessary. Plus, you will be actively helping a new nurse, which is always something to be proud of.

Make Your Ambitions Known

If your managers don’t know that you have ambitions to advance, then they might consider other nurses who are vocal about their dreams for promotions before you. While it’s probably not a good idea to go around work talking non-stop about how one day you’re going to be a certified nurse anesthetist, you should slip that you want to advance into conversations. Don’t just say it, either – make it known through your actions. For example, pursuing a DNP shows that you’re serious about your ambitions.

Never Show up to Work with Eye Bags

This one is tricky, but it will make you stand out for all the right reasons. By showing up to work alert and positive, you show your managers that you are extremely capable. The key to doing this is getting enough sleep and relaxing enough when you get home. By setting yourself a bedtime and focusing on getting quality sleep, you ensure you always show up to work with bright eyes.

Even if you are doing a DNP alongside a nursing role, you should still prioritize sleep. Otherwise, you run the risk of performing poorly in your studies and at work.

Let Other Nurses Shine

Now, this might seem counter-intuitive, but it’ll show you in a great light. By letting other nurses shine just as much as you do, you show that for you, it is not a competition. Plus, pettiness has no place in advanced nursing roles, so you already put yourself apart from those who only want the attention on themselves. Remember – most nursing roles require teamwork, so show that you’re willing to be part of that team.

Be Friendly with Everyone

When it comes to standing out as a nurse, your reputation matters. After all, you don’t want to stand out because you’re a gossip or because you always show up late! By being friendly with everyone you meet, you ensure no one has a bad word to say about you. You should avoid any workplace gossip, too, as it could damage your reputation and hurt someone else at the same time. By maintaining professionalism and being kind to all your co-workers, you will be known in a positive light.

Ask for Support When Needed

Remember, you are not a machine, so if you need support, be willing to ask for it. Don’t worry – unless it’s for frivolous things or too often, it won’t show you as weak. Instead, it’ll show that you’re willing to admit when you need extra help, which is important for nurses.

Do Your Own Research

While you’ll be required to research your career and for any further education you do like a DNP, you should also put the effort into doing your own. Not only will this expand your knowledge, improving your skills as a nurse, but it’ll also show your passion for the field. If you can talk to those in higher nursing positions about the latest developments in nursing, you are sure to make an excellent impression.

Admit to Your Mistakes

It takes a professional nurse to admit when they are wrong. You might worry that it’ll show you in a negative light, but more often than not, the opposite will happen. By stepping forward and taking responsibility for your mistakes, you show that you are professional and honest – two qualities that make an excellent nurse. Just remember not to make the same mistake twice!

Know How to Interview Well

If you want to stand out because you’re looking to advance your role, you must get better at interviewing. When sitting in front of a nursing recruiter, you need to show them that you have the skills, knowledge, and talent they need to fill their nursing position. Remember – confidence is key.

Take on All Training Opportunities

If your manager ever offers you a training opportunity, take it. Training is a great way to improve your nursing skills, which will help you become a better nurse and stand out. Plus, agreeing to train will put you in a positive light, as it shows you are committed to getting better at your job. All in all, it’s a win-win.

Keep a Positive Attitude

No matter how good you are at your job, if you do it with a sour look on your face, people will think you don’t want to be there. When the time comes for a promotion or a recommendation, you probably won’t make the cut. So, make it your mission to go to work with a positive attitude. It’s not always easy, especially with the stresses that come from working as a nurse, but it’ll help you stand out.

Keep Up to Date on the Nursing World

All nurses are educated, but some are more knowledgeable than others. Keeping up to date with the healthcare and nursing world shows that it’s not just a job for you but that it is a keen interest. Some ways you can do this include:

  • Listening to podcasts
  • Reading nursing blogs
  • Reading nursing books
  • Having conversations with other healthcare workers

Put in More Overtime

Putting in more overtime might be difficult, especially if you are studying for a DNP, but it’ll help you stand out amongst the nursing crowd. It’ll show your managers that your nursing role is the most important part of your life and that you are committed to the job. If the time comes when they need to promote someone, it’ll likely be the person who has put in the most work. Let that be you.

Have a Sense of Humor

There’s a difference between being serious about your nursing job and always being serious. You should be the former, but it’s not necessary to have a serious attitude all the time, especially when it is not called for. By having a sense of humor, you ensure the patients and your co-workers enjoy your presence, resulting in a better reputation overall. Plus, having a good sense of humor will help you get through some of the tougher days.

Go for Your Doctorate

If you want to stand out and show that you are willing to go the extra mile, go for your doctorate. By pursuing a DNP, you instantly show everyone that you are committed to advancing as a nurse.

Standing out as a nurse will help you in multiple ways. If you manage it, you can expect more pay-rises, recommendations, and promotions.

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About the author

Jimmy Rustling

Born at an early age, Jimmy Rustling has found solace and comfort knowing that his humble actions have made this multiverse a better place for every man, woman and child ever known to exist. Dr. Jimmy Rustling has won many awards for excellence in writing including fourteen Peabody awards and a handful of Pulitzer Prizes. When Jimmies are not being Rustled the kind Dr. enjoys being an amazing husband to his beautiful, soulmate; Anastasia, a Russian mail order bride of almost 2 months. Dr. Rustling also spends 12-15 hours each day teaching their adopted 8-year-old Syrian refugee daughter how to read and write.